Every year, approximately 1,000 kids under the age of 20 die from drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1-4 years old, and among teens is the second leading cause of death. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released new guidelines for parents and family members.
Summary of the New Recommendations:
- For the first time, AAP is now recommending kids who are 1-3 years old should take swim safety lessons. Research has shown kids under the age of 4 can learn basic safety skills like back floating, getting to the side of the pool and water safety instructions.
- There is new guidance on flotation devices. The AAP recommends kids wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest that fits snugly to ensure the child doesn't slip out (like a tube or just the floatie “arms”).
- If you have a pool, have at least a 4-foot fence around the pool with a gate that's self-latching and self-closing and not able to be climbed.
- Assign an adult to be a water-watcher. This adult should put away their cell-phone, not drink alcohol, stay on watch even with lifeguards and only be focused on the water to watch children who are swimming. Adults should switch out every 1-2 hours.
- Every child should learn how to swim. (Learn more about HRCA Swim Lesson Program)
- Every adult and child should learn CPR.
Some age-specific tips:
- Infants - An infant can drown in just 1-2 inches of water. Never leave an infant unattended in the bathtub or any type of water. Close the lid of the toilet.
- Toddlers - Lock doors/garages so children cannot get outside. Empty all buckets, baths and wading pools after you finish using them.
- Children - Choose places which are safe to swim in and do not have any underlying currents or rip tides. Make sure children take swim lessons from a certified instructor.
- Teens - Never dive head-first into shallow or unknown depth water. Wear life vests if on a boat. Be prepared to help (and learn CPR).